The Utah Jazz aren't world beaters right now, but that doesn't mean that they have to let the world beat them down. It's very rare for a Jazz team to be this bad. In fact, sadly, this could be one of the least winning Jazz teams in franchise history. In the forty years of the New Orleans / Utah Jazz, the club has finished with 25 or fewer wins just three times. The first being, well, the first season. The other two times were with Tom Nissalke as head coach. This season could be the fourth. Which would mean that the team does this at least once every decade.
I want ping-pong balls, but beyond the allure of the future I still like my team to play hard and at least put up a fight. We're seeing that lately even if we're not seeing wins. There are 10 days left in March, and the Jazz will get an opportunity or two to try to get some wins, and move from 22 total wins into the land of more respectability. The games Utah have left to play are: at home hosting the Orlando Magic, at home hosting the Detroit Pistons, at home hosting the Memphis Grizzlies, on the road at the New Orleans Pelicans, on the road to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then back home again hosting the New York Knicks.
On paper we may be one of the worst teams in franchise history, and currently in the NBA. But beyond paper I still see a team that has heart. And on this day, where we cherish Frank Layden (if you look at it, he was basically the Aragorn of this franchise) and the men he led into battle to the playoffs, the hearts of Jazz fans should not fail.
So, 10 days, 6 games. Which ones can we win?
|Rank||Season||Last 20||Last 10||OFF RTG||DEF RTG|
The most obvious one is tonight. The Orlando Magic are just as bad, if not worse, than we are. Their offense is putrid, but their defense is better than ours. This will be their third road game in a four game trip. It's also the second night of a back to back for them -- but not us. Jameer Nelson is not going to play tonight for them. So, good? They've seem to cleared the way for Trey Burke to beat them down again without having to play any defense. This should be a win.
Two nights light the Jazz host the Pistons. Detroit is a mess, they are just as bad as the Magic over the last 10 games, and their offense and defense are both in the low 20s. This is the fourth game on the road for them on this trip, their last. And it will be their 3rd game in four nights. Sounds like a win as well. They are still without Chauncey Billups, and we're kinda healthy. And we're at home. Detroit historically has trouble in our building.
The Jazz finish their homestand with a game against the surging Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis is the 10th best team in the NBA, and while that's nice and they have a 58.8 winning % for the season, over the last 20 and last 10 games it's up to 70.0%. Their defense dismantled us last week in their gym. They will be starting their first game of a five game road trip, and be fresh and ready to start it off on the right note. I see a loss here.
On Friday the Jazz will be down in New Orleans to play the Pelicans. I don't know what's up with this team. They win games they shouldn't and lose games they should win. They are 5-5 in their last 10, and have one of the best offenses in the league. They will be playing their fourth and final game of a home stand, and it will be the first night of a back to back for them. Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith, and Ryan Anderson are all done for the season. Eric Gordon may be playing. But that alone should be enough to beat us if he and Anthony Davis are balling. Right now, though, they aren't. This could go either way.
The Jazz play in Oklahoma City against the Northwest leading Thunder. OKC is the third best team in the league, and the second best in the West. It will be their second of three games at home on a homestand. Also, they are really good. This should be a loss for the Jazz, even though Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins will both be out.
The last game, right after the OKC game, will be the last game of the month. Here we'll see the Utah Jazz host the New York Knicks. NY is killing it right now, they are 8-2, and almost have a Top 10 offense. They have everything to play for and have a shot at making the playoffs still. (Seriously, they are 29-40 right now, how sad is that?) The problem for them is that the game in Utah will be their fifth of a five game road trip, the second night of a back to back, the third game in four nights, and the fifth game in seven. They'll be tired and beat. No Kenyon Martin nor Andrea Bargnani either.
So six games -- I could easily see the Jazz winning three, maybe four if the Pelicans aren't dialed in. What would four wins in this short grouping do for the Jazz? Well, it would take the team from 22 wins to 26, and out of the danger zone of being one of the worst Jazz teams by record, ever. But it would also hurt our ping pong ball chances.
It's going to be interesting to see how things shake out. But right now I see the Jazz looking to add some wins to their record, and finishing March strong.